Heard on campus: ‘This is the first minute of my someday’
Heard on campus: “Upon my acceptance into Stanford, when I informed my grandmother of the news, her initial reply was that this was ‘. . . the first minute of my someday,’ as in the song ‘We Shall Overcome. ‘”
GÜEZ SALINAS, a 34-year-old Marine who transferred to Stanford as a junior this fall, offered these words during the question-and-answer period that followed the screening of Soundtrack for a Revolution, a documentary film by Dan Sturman and BILL GUTTENTAG, an Oscar-winning filmmaker, former Knight Journalism Fellow and a lecturer in the Graduate School of Business. The 82-minute documentary chronicles the Civil Rights Movement and features interviews with the leaders and foot soldiers who struggled to remain nonviolent in the face of unspeakable state-sanctioned terror.
One of the weapons used by those troops on the ground was the freedom songs they sung as they trained and marched, as they were beaten and jailed and as they mourned their martyrs. The filmmakers juxtaposed footage from events such as the marches to the Edmond Pettus Bridge and the funerals of Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King with contemporary renditions of those songs by today’s musical artists.
The day after the film was screened in a packed Cubberley Auditorium last Thursday night, Salinas, who is black, wrote an e-mail about his own encounters with racism, including incidents on this very campus in 2009.
“I believe that the true test of a man’s character is how he treats those to whom he is not obliged to be nice. I have made every effort to confront my bouts with racism in the most intellectual and constructive way possible. Watching those that went before me handle themselves with such grace and composure let me know that I must, out of respect for their struggle, hold myself to a higher standard and order. And me viewing the film last night was God’s way of answering my prayer of ‘What should I do?'”
– Elaine Ray